10 Suspect Causes of Autism & Learning Disabilities

Researchers name chemicals suspected of causing autism and other serious disorders in children.

April 24, 2012
Autism risk: More than just genetics?
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Scientists are racing to find an answer to this question: How do you get autism? Increasingly, they're finding that when it comes to autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities, genetics is only part of the story. In fact, in trying to figure out the sources of autism, researchers are proving that environmental factors--everything from farm chemicals to soda and shampoo ingredients--could be permanently messing with children's brain development. Today, in an unprecedented move, some of the world's leading experts published a new list of highly suspect chemicals and heavy metals believed to be behind the surge in cases of autism and other neurodevelopmental diseases. "We have very powerful, very sophisticated tools we can use to measure chemicals at very low levels," explains Phil Landrigan, MD, coauthor of the list and professor and chair of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York. "It's now possible to connect early exposure to problems in childhood."

Dr. Landrigan says the goal of the list, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, is to inform more doctors and nurses about the environmental triggers of autism, to increase funding for more studies, and to ultimately change chemical regulation in this country to better protect our children.

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